BIOCON: The Digital World Meets Biology

Over the past several months, we have been taking an internal deep dive into the growing area of engineering biology and the impact it will have on the future of personalized therapeutics, drug development, genetic diagnostics and disease prevention. We will share our insights shortly as well as an innovation map we developed of players in the field. In the meantime, we wanted to spotlight some of the recent innovators in this space that we had the opportunity to meet during the BIOCON event we co-hosted with Indie Bio and Data Collective a couple of weeks ago.

On August 17th, we brought together a packed house of top technologists, scientists, investors and entrepreneurs. As evidenced by the standing room only crowd, we are not the only ones excited to learn about the future of engineering biology. We opened the stage for several mini pitches from interesting startups in the space such as Caribou Biosciences, Pareto Biotechnologies, Arcturus BioCloud, Biocosm, 3Scan, Epibiome and Riffyn bookending the expert panel, the flagship event of the day. The panel consisted of experienced CEOs who have built companies that use advanced data science techniques to deliver important solutions to the life sciences industry. Speakers included Mickey Kertesz, CEO of Innovation Endeavors backed-Karius, Aron Rachamim, CEO of Orphidia, and Ethan Perlstein, CEO of Perlstein Lab moderated by Ryan Bethencourt, Program Director and Venture Partner at Indie Bio. Each panelist shared the main roadblocks they face that present challenges to scale, while offering advice and encouragement their fellow entrepreneurs.

We wanted to share more information on the companies that participated as they are leading some of the most cutting-edge innovation in this space:

Caribou Biosciences: Caribou Bio was founded in 2011 by Jennifer Doudna, Rachel Haurwitz, Martin Jinek and James Berger. The core technologies were born out of research carried out in the Doudna Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. Key research programs at Caribou focus on further development of Cas9 and CRISPR technologies with improved genome engineering activity. Our mission is to enable any genome to be modified at any site in any way.

Caribou Bio forms strategic alliances with companies in the research, therapeutics, agriculture, and industrial bio fields. We provide our partners and customers with technology-based solutions for new and improved products. 

Pareto Biotechnologies: Pareto Biotechnologies has pioneered development of a revolutionary, integrated biotechnology / chemistry platform that produces naturally derived, high value “Designer Molecules.” Pareto’s technology is the result of over a decade of academic and private sector research and intellectual property focused on a polyketide and other specific pathways. Building on Dr. Joe Noel’s groundbreaking research at the Salk Institute, this pathway – previously dismissed as the “Poor man’s pathway” – is the foundation of Pareto’s platform, capable of generating known products and novel molecules.

In the near term, Pareto will introduce “Designer Molecules” as active ingredients, such as flavor compounds, with novel and enhanced properties. In the long term, Pareto’s molecules will be designed to enhance nutraceuticals and industrial commodities.

Arcturus BioCloud: Code, create and share your biotechnology experiments in a friendly and easy way. Easy genetic engineering - assemble genes without any previous knowledge, using our growing library of parts and a simple interface. Fast prototyping - we use super smart, fast and precise robots to assemble, transform and plate your synthetic biology project. Open community - we encourage collaboration and openness. Share your genetic circuits and co-create with other members; Simple to learn - code life as you play with LEGO. Don't waste your time with expensive and non-repeatable lab protocols.

Biocosm: Biocosm is working to incentivize and expand the development of synthetic biology and harness its potential to revolutionize industries, improve lives, and build a better world.

3Scan: DIGITIZING TISSUE FOR DATA-DRIVEN DECISIONS. We aim to improve the accuracy and efficiency of anatomic pathology by transforming a manual, analog, and qualitative field into an automated, digitized and quantitative medical science. Our technology will serve medical research and biotechnology industry customers who are creating new diagnostics and therapeutic solutions to improve clinical outcomes and save lives.

EpiBiome: EpiBiome is a precision microbiome engineering company based in San Francisco, California. Our mission is to employ a genomics approach to understand complex microbial communities and deploy bacterial viruses known as bacteriophages to specifically eliminate problematic bacteria while leaving the rest of the community intact. The company’s first product is a phage cocktail that will be applied directly to the teats of dairy cattle after milking to prevent mastitis. Utilizing nature’s form of bacterial control, this product will address the growing public health concern over the use of antibiotics on the farm while providing dairy producers with a more effective and socially responsible alternative to control mastitis. 

Riffyn: Riffyn unites computer-aided design, real-time data acquisition, 24/7 cloud-based analytics, and collaborative versioning to reduce error and accelerate innovation. The root cause of irreproducible research is unmanaged experimental noise. One hundred years of industrial manufacturing around the world has shown that such noise can be conquered through a collaborative process of design, measurement and improvement. When noise is driven out, productivity is driven up. We deliver cloud-based process design and improvement technology that helps R&D organizations reduce noise and ease collaboration. Researchers can achieve manufacturing-grade quality without the typical cost, complexity and constraints associated with manufacturing systems.

Based on the success of BIOCON this will undoubtedly be the first of many events to come. Be sure to check back with us for our more detailed analysis of the engineering biology space.

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